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DERBY HERO JUSTIFY’S FOOT CONDITION ‘NOT AN ISSUE’

Asmussen Reports Tenfold ‘Probable’ for Preakness

Brisset Training Quip for a Run in Middle Jewel

BALTIMORE – Trainer Bob Baffert said Monday he was not concerned about a condition that has surfaced in the left hind foot of Kentucky Derby (G1) hero Justify – the leading candidate for the May 19 Preakness Stakes (G1) at Pimlico Race Course.

“It’s not an issue,” the Hall of Fame trainer said. “It was sensitive there. It’s like a diaper rash, what he’s got. He looked great today.”

Jimmy Barnes, Baffert’s chief assistant who is overseeing Justify’s care at Churchill Downs, reported that “all was good” with the Derby winner, who had his second walk day Monday and will likely have two more before returning to the track.

Justify seemed to show signs of being off in his left hind leg when Baffert brought him out of the barn Sunday morning to show him off to the assembled fans and media. The son of Scat Daddy scored an impressive front-running victory in Saturday’s 144th Kentucky Derby over a sloppy Churchill Downs track. 

“He did not run down. They call them scratches or whatever,” Baffert said. “He’s had it before. You get it from wet [tracks] and you have to soften it up. It can be irritating. When he stepped on those rocks [outside the barn], it bit him. That’s why he did that. Because he was fine in the morning and today he was fine.”

Baffert, who has saddled six Preakness winners, including 2015 Triple Crown champion American Pharoah, said Justify’s condition has improved over the past two days.

“He will be going back to the track in a couple of days and everything will be good,” he said. “He’s responding to the treatment. So we’re good.”

Justify is scheduled to ship from Churchill Downs to Pimlico in the middle of next week.

ASMUSSEN REPORTS TENFOLD ‘PROBABLE’ FOR PREAKNESS

Steve Asmussen, trainer of Preakness winners Curlin (2007) and Rachel Alexandra (2009), said Monday that Winchell Thoroughbreds’ Tenfold is “probable” for the Middle Jewel of the Triple Crown. 

Tenfold, a son of two-time Horse of the Year Curlin, was fifth in the Arkansas Derby (G1) in his third career start after winning his first two races at Oaklawn. Tenfold worked five-eighths of a mile in 1:00 1/5 Monday morning at Churchill Downs, the seventh-fastest of 23 at the distance.

 “He’s a very nice horse that is getting better,” Asmussen said. “I liked his work a lot today. We’re expecting big things from him. I was a touch disappointed (in his Arkansas Derby). He’s better than that.”

The Hall of Fame trainer said he plans to be well-represented in Pimlico’s other stakes on Maryland’s showcase week. On Kentucky Derby Day, Asmussen became only the second trainer to win 8,000 races when 2017 Derby runner-up Lookin At Lee won an allowance race.

“Is that not incredible?” he said. “On Derby Day, with my parents in attendance? I am truly blessed.”

Lone Sailor, who finished eighth in the Kentucky Derby, is a possible candidate for the Preakness.

Also at Churchill, trainer Tom Amoss said Louisiana Derby (G2) runner-up Lone Sailor came out of his Derby start well and that no decision has been made on the Preakness.

“We’ll see how he trains and make a decision off of that,” he said. “Whether it should be the Preakness or something else, I don’t know. (The Preakness) is not out of the question.”

BRISSET TRAINING QUIP FOR A RUN IN PREAKNESS

Trainer Rodolphe Brisset continues to prepare Quip, the Tampa Bay Derby (G2) winner who was second in the Arkansas Derby, for the Preakness Stakes. Quip’s owners, WinStar Farm and China Horse Club International, also own Kentucky Derby winner Justify.

Elliott Walden, president of co-owner WinStar Farm, on Sunday said a final decision had yet to be made about Quip but continued, “My first inclination is to go ahead and run him, but we need to talk to our partners and see. But we’d set the horse up to run in the Preakness and he worked very well on Thursday. If Justify is supposed to win the Triple Crown, he’ll beat Quip. I just think you try to manage your horses the best you can, and that it’s the right thing for Quip.”

Florent Geroux is Quip’s regular rider.

Quip worked a half-mile in 48 seconds Thursday at Keeneland, second-fastest of 28 moves at the distance. Brisset said that, pending weather, the son of the WinStar stallion Distorted Humor will get a final Preakness work Sunday. He is scheduled to fly to Baltimore May 15 or 16.

 “We got the horse set up to run in the Preakness,” he said. “Like Elliott said, they like to do the right thing by the horse. We all agreed the Preakness was the best shot for Quip. We did talk that it didn’t matter who won the Derby that we would be pointing him to the Preakness.”

Brisset, who has trained on his own for a year after being an assistant to Hall of Famer Bill Mott, said it wasn’t hard to pass on the Kentucky Derby.  

“It was an easy decision for a couple of reasons,” he said. “The horse was showing us that he didn’t want to run back in three weeks. That was the first reason. The second reason was the fact that WinStar had three other horses in the Derby. I was leaning to where I’d pass, and it was easy for them to give me the green light and say, ‘That’s fine, if you feel like the horse needs more time.’ We talk and work as a team with Elliott and all the ownership. It’s not like I’m 70 years old and been at it 40 years and never had one (Derby horse). Hopefully I’ll have another one.

“But it’s horse-first for us. I have too much respect for Quip. He put us on the map. It’s pretty amazing we were lucky enough to have him. It’s a fun ride, and still a fun ride. A classic is a classic,” he added “There’s nothing wrong about running in the Preakness with a shot… I was very happy he was in the stall when I saw all that rain and mud (for the Derby). We have a horse that will come back fresh. He worked very good last week, and I wouldn’t trade my place.”

Trainer D. Wayne Lukas is expected to enter both Bravazo (sixth in the Kentucky Derby) and Sporting Chance in a quest for his seventh Preakness success. Trainer John Servis, who saddled Kentucky Derby winner Smarty Jones for a victory in the 2004 Preakness, will return with Federico Tesio winner Diamond King.  Kentucky Derby runner-up Good Magic is also under Preakness consideration. 

About Pimlico Race Course

Legendary Pimlico Race Course, home of the Preakness® Stakes, the Middle Jewel in horse racing’s famed Triple Crown, first opened its doors on October 25, 1870, and is the second oldest racetrack in the United States. Pimlico has played host to racing icons and Baltimoreans have seen the likes of legendary horses such as Man o’ War, Seabiscuit, Secretariat, Affirmed, American Pharoah and Cigar thunder down the stretch in thrilling and memorable competition. For more information on Pimlico, visit www.pimlico.com.

The Stronach Group is North America’s leading Thoroughbred racetrack owner/operator. The Stronach Group racetracks include Santa Anita Park, Gulfstream Park & Casino, home of the Pegasus World Cup Invitational, Golden Gate Fields, Portland Meadows, Laurel Park and Pimlico Race Course, home of the world-famous Preakness. The company owns and operates the Palm Meadows Training Center in Florida and is one of North America’s top race horse breeders through its award-winning Adena Springs operation. The Stronach Group is one of the world’s largest suppliers of pari-mutuel wagering systems, technologies and services. Its companies include AmTote, a global leader in wagering technology; Xpressbet, an Internet and telephone account wagering service; and Monarch Content Management, which acts as a simulcast purchase and sales agent of horseracing content for numerous North American racetracks and wagering outlets. The Stronach Group is also a leading producer of social media content for the horseracing industry. For more information contact David Joseph at david.joseph@marylandracing.com or call 954.658.7156.